Fact: Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings in Arizona last week that a trade for Haloti Ngata was unlikely until just a few hours before it happened. "I might keep him," Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome told Mayhew the day before, according to Mayhew, but Newsome called back the next day to say Ngata was now available.
Opinion: Mayhew's recollections reconfirm my thought that the last thing the Ravens wanted was to trade their Pro Bowl defensive tackle. They did it only when they had no choice after running out of time to sign him to a contract extension.
Fact: At their meetings in Arizona, the owners passed a ban on the ineligible receiver alignment the Patriots used against the Ravens in the divisional playoffs.
Opinion: The league used a lot of complex language in explaining the move, so here's some no-nonsense playground-speak that cuts through the jargon: The owners thought it was, well, kind of a weasel move. Was it legal? No question. By outlawing it in March, the league reaffirmed that the Patriots acted within the rules when they put the play in motion two months earlier. But obviously, other teams, not just the Ravens, didn't think it was sporting or whatever, so now it's illegal. I'm guessing Bill Belichick isn't too upset. It worked.
Fact: According to multiple reports, the league is seriously considering livening up the extra point as soon as this year, having discussed such potential changes as moving the ball to the 15-yard line for PAT kicks; placing it on the 1½-yard line for two-point conversion attempts; eliminating the kick entirely; and allowing the defense to score on turnovers on a two-point try.
Opinion: For some reason, a lot of people are dead against making changes to the extra point. I don't get all the loyalty. The extra point is the game's dullest play. I'm for injecting more drama and decision-making. If the kick gets moved to the 15, fine; the Ravens certainly won't suffer with Justin Tucker. If the ball gets moved to the 1½-yard line for two-point attempts, that's even better. I guarantee you things will get interesting when coaches are tempted by such an attainable two-point play.
Fact: Expanding the playoff field by one team in each conference was discussed in Arizona, but tabled for now, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Opinion: I'm told this is inevitable. My preference would be for it never to happen. The playoffs are fine as is with four division winners and two wild cards in each conference. The more wild cards you add, the more watered-down the field gets. You're on the way to becoming the NBA, where pretty much any decent team makes the playoffs, devaluing what transpires during the regular season. I prefer it when the regular season matters and making the playoffs is deemed an accomplishment in itself, as is the case now. But of course, more playoff games mean more revenue, more markets in the hunt in December, etc., and that wins.
Fact: The league rejected a batch of proposals that would have expanded instant replay to cover most plays and fouls.
Opinion: I'm glad that didn't pass. As much as I'm all for seeing the baseball mantra of "just get it right" employed in other sports, NFL games are already interrupted enough by replay reviews. With too many more, games would essentially become three-hour-plus video conferences interrupted by occasional action. Enough already. If anything, I'd like to see fewer reviews.
Fact: Almost four months after the league reinstated him, former Ravens running back Ray Rice is without a job in the NFL.
Opinion: I'm somewhat surprised. I thought someone would have given him a chance by now, as happened recently with Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, other players who also faced domestic violence changes. Obviously, Rice's name remains more toxic and he might have to start getting used to the possibility that he won't play again.
Fact: A basketball player for West Virginia, which eliminated Maryland from the NCAA tournament last weekend, showed his "swagger" by confidently predicting that undefeated Kentucky would be 36-1 after playing West Virginia in the Sweet 16.
Opinion: Sorry, it's not football, but I couldn't resist throwing in this reference to what surely ranks among the lamest predictions in sports history. Kentucky led West Virginia by a 20-2 score early Thursday night, by 44-18 at halftime, and by 78-39 when the game ended. Hey, guy, just missed!